I haven’t ever found a quote that described how i approach software as succinctly as this. I use a bullet journal religiously and it’s specifically because of this.
For me it goes:
1 - handwritten brain dump
2 - Re-read my notes, analyze them and prep them for consolidation. This means writing down questions I have, updating notes I took that I might have better understanding of now, etc...
3 - Consolidate and import them into Roam with links and supplementary materials (images, code snippets, etc...)
> Well, the work was done in your head but the record of it is still here.
> No, it’s not a record, not really, it’s working. You have to work on paper and this is the paper. OK?
I like the idea of not trying to store notes in a hierarchy, but using search and/or tags to try and reference (or discover relations between) notes.
I like the article's emphasis on "how do I want to access this later?". TBH Sometimes I've looked up previous bookmarks or notes, and they didn't have the keywords or tags I was expecting.
I'd suggest https://github.com/EFLS/zetteldeft as another project which more/less supports some of the workflow suggested in the article.
That said, yeah, I do prefer pen and paper for worklog notes.
I also use a personal set of scripts for Zettelkasten (in combination with rofi) and I do encounter this sometimes. I've come to the conclusion that it's not a large problem: as long as you find the notes you're looking for most of the time, it's good.
I think the problem of always finding all notes that are relevant to each search is too hard and has diminishing returns. It's best to simply avoid it by relaxing your expectations.
If some of the notes are forgotten, so be it. I place my requirements and expectations on the system as a whole, not on each particular note. If the overall system is useful and serves me well, I don't care if some of the notes are forgotten and I've reduced my workload and note loss anxiety by several orders of magnitude. This is what I meant by diminishing returns.
However, with full-text search, it's hard to imagine how any note could be forgotten completely, unless it contains no text at all. This is something Luhmann did not have.
I think this is mainly due to the fact that my note pad sits at my desk as a constant reminder of what needs to be done. Org files sit in my file system and are often forgotten.
Does this imply that it contained too many distractions for you, which pen/paper doesn’t? Genuinely curious as I’m trying to optimize my note-taking process and have never used org mode.
Lately I just use a big Markdown file. That's been pretty nice, but I haven't been at it long enough to be able to endorse it strongly.
I agree if you decide to put some big chunk of your life into Org, you'll either find yourself reading the rest of those chapters, or copying/writing your own customizations, or both. That's where the rabbit hole starts.
Btw, to Notion users — does anyone feel that it’s matched/surpassed Org mode in the breadth of workflows it supports?
I love Org-mode, and will likely continue to use it for various things, but I agree that Notion is the only thing that (to me) surpasses it.
I still don't completely trust the manual ordering of the entries to be persistent, but for notetaking/archiving it has worked well so far. I recently started to write longer notes on one topic, sometimes including passages from several articles, instead of adhering to the size limitations of a paper card
I think where Notion differs from others, and where it has similarity to Org-Mode is it's ability to create 'blocks' with more dynamic behaviours (calendars, kanban blocks, tables) as well as how easy it is to create linkages between pages.
Some weeks ago, I read your series of articles about org-mode workflow. I was especially insterested by the one about zettelkasten. This was a trigger for me to switch my notes into org-mode. So I would like first to thank you for your good quality articles !
What interests me in your new package is the automatic link/backlink detection between notes. This is a really great feature I was missing that in the other packages. I'm currently using zetteldeft and I insert hashtags into my notes to be able to search them by tag.
I would like to try org-roam. My question is : in what way should I modify my current note files to be compatible with org-roam ?
> My question is : in what way should I modify my current note files to be compatible with org-roam ?
In contrast to zetteldeft, the links in org-roam are real file links. This means you need to replace all of the zetteldeft links with actual org file-links.
That should be all the changes required I think.
What is your experience with Notion? How does it compare to org-mode, specifically your system?
I had a run at org-mode, specifically with interest in literate and pkm, and it was too painful/buggy, with the obvious rabbit hole of config. So far, Notion appears to be "good-enough", but it's slow and there is some export friction I feel could be smoothed over with org.
Never used it, so I can't comment here.
> How does it compare to org-mode, specifically your system?
I think Notion targets users who just want to take notes, and not spend time messing around with config. Notion has what I will term "sane defaults", but if something doesn't feel right, there's no way to change it. My system also has sane defaults, and the code powering it is simple and easy to tweak as you please.
Another difference is that Notion is online-first. I'm of the opinion that PKMs should be offline-first, and that the data should be entirely in your control.
Org-mode is just plain text, which is incredibly important for the longevity of the system. It's a system that will be around in a few decades. Can you say the same about Notion?
Org-mode also has an amazing ecosystem of packages, with first-class support for math, tables, images, citations and code. You also have the editing power of Emacs, rather than some web-based IDE.
> it was too painful/buggy, with the obvious rabbit hole of config
I feel like the defaults of Org-mode are pretty good. At least you get to make the decision of trading off your time configuring Org, and using it as it is.
My Emacs configuration hasn't changed in some time. This project started out as 27 lines of Emacs Lisp in my config, but since there was some interest in making it more widely usable, I took some time to polish and release it. To the end user, it should be just plug and play.
I think you definitely highlighted the other side of the coin with Notion: once you're out on the edges of what it can do, there's no way to extend/change/modify.
The performance also comes to mind. Emacs will always be faster vs. an Electron app.
I think I just need to bite the bullet and take some time to really learn Emacs/org, I think after the initial learning curve the flexibility and power will really pay off.
One other question: Sometimes I'll be listening to a podcast, or reading, or will just generally have a thought or idea, and Emacs isn't easily reachable. What's the best way(IYO) to get that in to your system?
Thanks again and I'm hopeful you'll keep up the writing, it's done quite well.
After that I just refine the saved messages and transfer them into my system.
> Emacs will always be faster vs. an Electron app.
No, but it should certainly take up less memory. Emacs lisp is slow, I think the basic operations would be faster if it were an Electron app.
I wish orgmode used space)tab indents not / * * /* * * stacking
The org-hide-leading-stars variable visually hides the leading stars, which sounds like it might suit your preference.
> TODO to simple bullet or numbered lists
Org-mode lists can have checkboxes (like markdown has on GitHub).
But I feel this is exasperated by org-headings not having a 'closing' syntax (like XML elements). Since you can't "close" a heading, you can't easily just continue the content of a heading after the content of its sub-headings; so to have a 'TODO' list within the contents of a heading, subheadings aren't an option.
I haven't updated the github repo in awhile and it's under the radar for a few more months, but you can read a design document here https://github.com/mnemnion/orb/blob/master/orb/notes/orb.or...
Although it's easier to read the woken Markdown documentation, despite a couple errors: https://github.com/mnemnion/orb/blob/master/doc/md/notes/orb...
It's self-hosting as well.
I have everything in org/githubpages but I often get a bit frustrated with Emacs and its clunkiness. My issue is that orgmode has no spec and is so tightly coupled to Emacs - so ive ended up unintentionally married to the whole ecosystem.. I've been considering migrating away from org but I don't have any great alternative in mind
It's not ready for primetime, but it's getting close; there's years of work ahead before it can do everything orgmode does, but as a literate programming environment, it works great.
As long as you stick to Lua. Making it work with Jupyter kernels is the next major phase of the project.
For me, the main benefits of org-mode are the Emacs keybindings to handle the docs semantically, to e.g. move the headings around, nest a whole hierarchy, archive a heading, etc. Also, the agenda view is really useful.
I've been using org-mode mostly to keep day-by-day notes in files such as ~/org/diary/2020-02-15.org, which I create for a given day from a keybinding. I've been thinking of starting to make personal backlogs in the form of org-mode files, keeping the headings ordered by priority, and archiving each heading when I'm done with them. All the benefit of using org-mode here comes from the keybindings.
> My issue is that orgmode has no spec and is so tightly coupled to Emacs
The spec is the org-mode manual. What other programs do, like Orgzly on Android, is to just support what they can of the format. They don't need to have feature-parity with org-mode on Emacs to be useful.
How can we feel in love again with Org?
My note taking is some plain text files in hierarchy and vim. It works even on Android phone using termux. And I am pretty much used to it.
For todo, I have a shellscript that takes an argument and open text file of that name. Works reasonably well.
Plus, prefix your text files with .md and get all the formatting stuff.
Have heard about vimwiki. But maybe because I am a student, text files suffice for my purpose. Thanks for reminding about it.
If you want good, painless syncing between devices, and good mobile use: this would require quite some effort to get org-mode as good as OneNote's.
Org-Babel is an example of something that org can do but OneNote can't.
(e.g. showing the results of code blocks in the same markup file).
It would be straightforward to make use of this without very much Emacs knowledge, but the Emacs UX isn't great out of the box.
Or maybe some other feature of org-mode might be useful to have with your notes. https://orgmode.org/manual/index.html
e.g. I like the org-agenda. I haven't used exporting org files into PDF or presentations, but I could see it being useful for people who use it.
You'd be fine getting on without needing to learn much Emacs (beyond a relevant tutorial for the feature), not counting aforementioned Emacs default configuration. -- I think the momentum of "I can do a bunch of different things in org" comes incrementally, rather than starting using several features of org.